DYNAMOS will be crowned the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League champions next Wednesday should Highlanders lose their tough home match against FC Platinum.
BY Wellington Toni, Sports Editor
If the defending champions beat Buffaloes, which they are expected to do after overcoming their toughest hurdle Monomotapa 2-1 on Sunday, then the trophy will remain in Harare for the second season running.
The Harare giants are on 65 points and will move to an unassailable 68 if they win while Bosso, who downed Hardbody 2-0 at Ascot, will stay on 62, never mind the pending Dynamos-Hwange case where the arbitration court is still to hand down judgement.
Mthulisi Maphosa and newboy Cleopas Dube gave Highlanders the win at Ascot – a stadium where they have not lost since 2001. The Bulawayo giants’ biggest undoing was the nine draws they played this season, in particular the four against Dynamos and local rivals Chicken Inn.
Highlanders, on the other hand, can still keep their fading championship hopes alive if they complete a double over the platinum miners, whom they beat 3-1 in the reverse fixture.
There was huge expectation from the Highlanders fans that Monoz, who became the first team to beat Bosso this season, would play the party spoilers against Dynamos, who they beat 1-0 in the reverse fixture, and when they took the lead at the breather, it seemed all was on course.
But various changes in the second half from the defending champions and Monoz’ decision to slow down play, saw Simba Sithole and Rodreck Mutuma score twice to complete the comeback and put one hand on the league title.
Thomas Magorimbo, who had a torrid time against Ronald Chitiyo on the wing, was moved into the defensive midfield position, while Timire Mamvura moved the other way.
Denver Mukamba, who was playing central midfield, was moved to his favourite left wing while Mutuma and Murape Murape were brought in for Cliff Sekete and Farai Mupasiri.
While Dynamos coach Kalisto Pasuwa got his tactics right, Monoz coach Biggie Zuze was technically deficient, substituting players who could have saved his day. Tendai Ngulube, scorer Tawanda Nyamandwe and Kuda Musharu were all taken out for Brian Mapfumo, Osborne Mukuradare and Makai Kawashu respectively.
Fight for Africa
Monoz’ loss saw them drop to fourth place after Chicken Inn helped themselves to a 3-0 win over relegated Quelaton at Luveve on the same day.
Chicken Inn will play in Africa if they maintain their spot as Caf has, again, given Zimbabwe two slots in the Champions League and two in the Confederation Cup.
Highlanders, who can finish either first or second, have been banned for three years from taking part in any inter-club competition after a Zifa boob last season.
Zimbabwe are ranked 11th with 13 points from 12 countries that have two slots which are Tunisia (100 points), Nigeria (70 points), Egypt (64 points), Morocco (62 points), Democratic Republic of Congo (49 points), Sudan (47 points), Algeria (43 points), Cameroon (19 points), Angola (18 points), Mali (16 points), Zimbabwe (13 points) while Libya and Ivory Coast are tied on 12th with 11 points each.
The Confederation Cup is for winners of the country’s richest tournament, which is the Mbada Diamonds Cup. Four clubs — Dynamos, Caps United, FC Platinum and Monomotapa — are left in the tournament with the semi-finals taking place this weekend.
Dynamos are seeking their first back-to-back title wins for the first time in 17 years, having dominated the local scene between 1980 and 1983. Besides Dynamos, Highlanders also won four on the trot between 1998-1999 and 2002 while Caps United were successful in 2004 and 2005.
By the time Highlanders and Dynamos play their penultimate matches, there is a strong possibility that their opponents, Rangers and Hardbody, would have already been relegated.
Hardbody (23 points) face Black Mambas (28 points) next Wednesday at Morris Depot in a match the police side cannot afford to lose after they went down to Dynamos and Buffaloes in the last two games. Rangers (25 points), on the other hand, are at the Colliery against Hwange (30 points).
The coalminers lost 1-0 to FC Platinum at Mandava on Sunday, and clearly are in need of maximum points at home. With Hardbody having got a 5-1 hiding last week, there is no doubt Rangers’ Premiership flirtation will end at the Colliery.
While the league race still has 180 minutes to play, Wednesday November 14 is the real defining moment for both teams.
Week 29 (Wednesday Nov 14)- Highlanders vs FC Platinum (Barbourfields), Dynamos vs Buffaloes (Rufaro)
Week 30 (Sunday Nov 18)- Blue Rangers vs Highlanders (Gwanzura), Hardbody vs Dynamos (Ascot)